Ever feel like you missed the beginning of an important news story? Leonard will catch you up during Backstory. 

Recently in Backstory

Backstory: Maoist Rebels in India

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Arundhati Roy discusses the Maoist insurgency in India and the fight against corporations looking to exploit the rare minerals buried in tribal lands. In Walking with the Comrades, Roy takes readers to the unseen front lines of this ongoing battle, chronicling her months spent living with the rebel guerillas in the forests. In documenting their local struggles, Roy addresses the larger question of whether global capitalism will tolerate any societies existing outside of its control.


Backstory: The Debate Over Gun Control in America

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Adam Winkler examines America's four-centuries-long political battle over gun control and the right to bear arms. Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America is centered on the landmark 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller, which invalidated a law banning handguns in the nation's capital, and looks at the Founding Fathers, the Second Amendment, gun rights advocates and gun control lobbyists, and the debate over guns.

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Backstory: William Colby and the CIA

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Carl Colby talks about his father, William Colby, who was director of the CIA from 1973 to 1976, a tumultuous time in the agency's history that saw the resignation of Richard Nixon, the implosion of the Vietnam War and the Church Committee Hearings. Carl Colby directed the film "The Man Nobody Knew," about Colby's tenure at the agency and his life before and after.

"The Man Nobody Knew" is playing at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and the Quad Cinema.

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Backstory: Slovakia's Rejection of the Eurozone Debt Plan

Thursday, October 13, 2011

On Thursday, Slovakia's parliament approved the latest proposal to address the Eurozone's debt crisis, but it was the second time that the measure came to a vote this week. On Tuesday, the parliament had rejected it. On today’s second Backstory, Peter Spiegel, Brussels Bureau Chief for the Financial Times, discusses some of the reasons behind the rejection and how the Eurozone’s smaller countries feel about the plans to stabilize the economy that have been developed by the larger economies of France and Germany.

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Backstory: Omar Khadr & Guantanamo

Thursday, September 29, 2011

In July 2002, 15-year-old Omar Khadr was picked up in Afghanistan by U.S. forces and accused of killing an American soldier with a hand grenade. Although he is a Canadian citizen, Kadhr remains in the U.S. Prison at Guantanamo Bay and is the only Westerner still held there. Filmmakers Luc Côté and Patricio Henriquez talk about about their documentary "You Don’t Like the Truth: 4 Days Inside Guantanamo," which includes excerpts from Khadr’s 2003 videotaped interrogation by Canadian intelligence officers. “You Don’t Like the Truth” is currently playing at Film Forum through October 4. 


Backstory: What Solyndra Can Teach Us about Green Technology Investment

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The bankruptcy of California-based solar-panel producer Solyndra made headlines last month when it was revealed that the company had received $527 million in federal loans and that the Energy Department had later agreed to restructure its government-backed loan in an effort to help the ailing firm. On today’s Backstory, Lisa Margonelli, director of the Energy Policy Initiative at the New America Foundation, explains what lessons the Solyndra bankruptcy can teach us about federal investment in green energy and how countries like Germany and China are bolstering their green energy sectors.

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Backstory: Park51 and Sharif El-Gamal

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sharif El-Gamal, the developer of the Park51 project, talks about the passionate national debate that was sparked last year when the Islamic Community Center and mosque was proposed. Yesterday, Park51 opened its doors.

Frontline tells the story of Sharif El-Gamal and the story of the Ground Zero Mosque controversy. “The Man Behind the Mosque” airs Tuesday, September 27, at 9 pm on PBS.

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Backstory: Prosecuting the Guatemalan Genocide

Thursday, September 15, 2011

In the early 1980s, an estimated 200,000 Guatemalans were killed in a genocide carried out by the country’s military. Documentary filmmaker Pamela Yates was there in 1982 shooting footage of the struggle for her documentary, “When the Mountains Tremble.” On today’s Backstory, Yates discusses the efforts to prosecute some of Guatemala’s highest ranking generals for the genocide, and how her film footage has been used to help build a case against them. She tells the story in her latest film, “Granito: How to Nail a Dictator.” We’ll also be joined by Fredy Pecerelli, a forensic anthropologist who’s leading a team of anthropologists in combing through some of the mass graves in Guatemala.

“Granito: How to Nail a Dictator” is playing at the IFC Center

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Backstory: Canadian Tar Sands & the Keystone XL Pipeline

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The world’s largest energy project is underway in Alberta, Canada. Petroleum is being excavated from vast deposits of tar sands and a proposed pipeline would carry it to refineries in the United States. Journalist Andrew Nikiforuk, author of Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent, examines the ecological and economic impacts of the plan to develop the oil sands.

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Backstory: Hollywood & The Pentagon

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Hollywood and the Pentagon have a long history of cooperation. On today’s Backstory segment David Sirota, a journalist radio host and author of Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live in Now, examines how the Department of Defense leans on major studios to change their scripts in ways that promote militarism.

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Backstory: Protests in India

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A battle over anti-corruption legislation has led to major protests and hunger strikes in India. Mira Kamdar, senior fellow at the World Policy Institute and associate fellow at the Asia Society, fills us in on what’s going on there for today’s Backstory.

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Backstory: Continuing Unrest in Yemen

Thursday, August 18, 2011

As a brutal crackdown on protesters continues in Syria, the unrest in Yemen has slipped from the headlines. On today’s Backstory, Fawaz Gerges, a professor of Middle Eastern Politics and International Relations at the London School of Economics, describes what’s happened in the drought-stricken, poor country over the last few weeks, including the formation of a national council by those opposed to President Ali Abdullah Saleh.


Backstory: European Reaction to the US Credit Downgrade

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Markets around the world have been reacting this week to Standard & Poor’s decision to downgrade their rating of U.S. credit. On today’s first Backstory, Richard Milne, Capital Markets Editor at the Financial Times, explains what the downgrade means for European nations, and we’ll look at the steps that the European Central Bank took early this week to assuage investors’ fears about Spain and Italy’s ongoing debt problems.

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Backstory: Debt Settlement Companies

Thursday, August 11, 2011

This week the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs announced it is issuing 15 subpoenas to companies that promise “debt settlement” services—but in many cases seem unable to deliver. DCA Commissioner Jonathan Mintz joins us to explain the investigation and why the debt settlement industry represented the single greatest consumer fraud of the year.

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Backstory: The Gulf Dead Zone

Thursday, August 04, 2011

A major oxygen-depleted dead zone has returned to the Gulf of Mexico this year, killing large numbers of marine life and damaging the region’s already fragile economy. Dr. Nancy Rabalais, chief scientist of the Louisiana Marine Consortium, who recently returned from an expedition in the Gulf, and Matt Rota, Director of Science and Water Policy at the Gulf Restoration Network, explain the causes and consequences of dead zones.


Backstory: Developments in Syria

Thursday, August 04, 2011

On Wednesday, the United Nations Security Council issued a statement, condemning the violent government crackdown in Syria. Blake Hounshell, managing editor of Foreign Policy, discusses the situation in Syria, where shelling continues in the city of Hama, and the impact of the Security Council’s statement, and why Lebanon refused to sign on to it.

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Backstory: Human Body Part Trafficking

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The global market in human body parts is valued in billions of dollars. Scott Carney, a contributing editor at Wired magazine and author of the book The Red Market, tells us about the organs, bones, and even whole people that are bought and sold every day in a vast hidden economy known as the “red market.”

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Backstory: Handling the European Debt Crisis

Thursday, July 21, 2011

On Thursday, the European Council held an emergency meeting to discuss the debt problems that several Eurozone countries—including Italy, Greece, and Portugal—are facing. On today’s Backstory, Iain Begg, Professorial Research Fellow at the European Institute at the London School of Economics, discusses what happened at the meeting and how the continuing economic problems are affecting the entire Eurozone.

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Backstory: The Gay Bar

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The gay bar has long been at the center of the social, and even political, lives of gays and lesbians. June Thomas, Slate’s foreign editor, talks about the gay bar’s history; its many incarnations and whether it remains relevant in today’s society. Her six part series for Slate is called The Gay Bar: Its Riotous Past and Uncertain Future.

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Backstory: The Future of the Space Program

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Derrick Pitts, chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute, discusses the future of the U.S. space program now that the last shuttle mission is set to launch.

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